opened up a 21-0 lead Friday and escaped Heidkamp Stadium with a 28-21
overtime victory over host Wayne in a pivotal Greater Western
Ohio Conference game with huge league title and playoff implications.
“Two years ago we were up 19 points and they came back and won,” Fleming said. “I didn’t want to have a flashback so at halftime I was telling the guys we couldn’t let up. We had to go four quarters.”
And then some.
Led by Fleming and a defense that stiffened when it had to, Centerville opened up a 21-0 lead Friday and escaped Heidkamp Stadium with a 28-21 overtime victory over the host Warriors in a pivotal Greater Western Ohio Conference game with huge league title and playoff implications.
Two more wins and the Elks (6-2, 3-0) will earn their third GWOC Central title in four years and a playoff berth.
Wayne (6-2, 3-1) had a six-game win streak snapped. The Warriors lost 19-7 to Colerain in the season opener.
Fleming ended the night with 139 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, including 14 in the second half. He also threw for a TD.
“What a tough competitive kid he is,” Centerville coach Ron Ullery said. “He wants the ball in his hands probably too much, but he makes great decisions. And he’s a helluva leader.”
“Flemming played great. And (James) Cravens,” Wayne coach Jay Minton said. “They are a machine. I said that coming in.”
Cravens, Centerville’s senior running back, capped the scoring with a one-yard run in overtime. He opened the scoring with a 2-yard run less than two minutes in.
Cravens ended the night with 103 yards on 22 carries and earned every inch.
“That D-Line is incredible,” said Cravens of a wall anchored by Michigan State recruit Jerel Worthy. “Absolutely the best I’ve played against this year. They came after it, hit hard and went for the ball. What a tough defense.”
“You break one tackle and they were right there,” Fleming said. “You might play other teams where they slack backside, but these boys don’t let off. You get hit once and they are all there.
“It was real hard to get a yard. You just had to give that extra fight. Keep pushing.”
The Elks were pushed to the brink thanks in part to the standout play of Wayne freshman quarterback Braxton Miller. Inserted into the line-up during the Colerain game, Miller has shined.
With his team down three scores, Miller led the Warriors to two TDs in the final three minutes of the first half. He hit Erique Geiger for a 17-yard TD and then ran 1-yard for the next. Miller added a spectacular 43-yard TD run in the third quarter to tie the game. He ended the night 17-of-34 for 202 yards and two interceptions, including one in the end zone on the game’s final play.
Despite entering the game with just 138 yards rushing, Miller (6-foot-2, 190-pounds) added 122 yards on 15 carries.
Wayne outgained the Elks 426-340 in total yards.
“I told him after the game to keep his head high and that he’s something special,” Fleming said. “I told him to be a leader. That kid has some talent.”
Said Ullery jokingly: “I want to check his birth certificate. He’s a tremendous talent.”
The win was Centerville’s second straight in the series and evened its overtime record to 1-1 this year. The Elks lost to nationally ranked Byrnes (S.C.) 38-31 in OT in Week 4 and also dropped a 43-42 decision to Princeton in Week 2.
“We feel like we can get 20 yards, but getting 20 yards against Wayne is different than trying to get it against most teams,” Ullery said. “They played us hard the whole game and they made it really tough for us to run the ball.
“We tried a whole bunch of different things even though it looked like we were running the same play all night.”